In view of a recent trend of increasing numbers of complaints lodged by inbound group shoppers from the mainland, the TIC will implement the following measures shortly in order to safeguard the reputation of Hong Kong tourism:
Directive No. 167 will be amended in such a way that travel agents have to state in the itineraries that tourist guides must not coerce visitors into making purchases or remaining inside the registered shops.
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The number of spot checks at attractions will be increased to ensure that travel agents distribute the itineraries in accordance with the directive.
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The number of spot checks at registered shops will be increased, and apart from carrying out spot checks at the shops, the inspectors will stay in the shops for at least 30 minutes to observe whether the visitors can freely enter or leave the shops. If any visitors are in need of assistance, the inspectors will be ready to help them, record details of the situation and provide them with complaint forms in order to facilitate follow-ups by the TIC.
This morning the TIC met representatives of travel agents operating inbound mainland tours, registered shops and three trade unions of tourist guides, urging them to set great store by the overall interests of the industry, follow good business practice and abide by rules of the TIC, or else the TIC will crack down hard on them, with the maximum penalties being revocation of TIC membership and the Tourist Guide Pass for travel agents and tourist guides and deregistration for registered shops. The TIC will also review the existing penalties to ensure that their deterrent effect is strong enough.
The TIC is also informed that the Government has written to tourism authorities on the mainland, requesting them to implement measures at local levels, tighten regulation of the industry, root out market malpractice, and promote honest tourism with Hong Kong in order to protect the consumer rights of mainland visitors when they shop in Hong Kong. The Government will also step up promotion at shopping spots in order that mainland visitors will understand their consumer rights in Hong Kong.
Recently a mainland visitor was reportedly dissatisfied with the attitude of the tourist guide while shopping at a registered shop. He felt unwell later and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was certified dead. Given the severe nature of the incident, the TIC is now thoroughly investigating whether the tourist guide, the registered shop and the receiving agent concerned have violated any rules or pledges. As the investigation is still ongoing, details of the case cannot be disclosed. If there is any suspected violation of rules or pledges, the case will be handled by the Compliance Committee or the Committee on Shopping-related Practices in accordance with established procedures.
The TIC is deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident, and would like to offer its condolences to the family members of the deceased. It is now providing necessary assistance for them.